The proliferation of event apps has made the spreadsheet and seating board nearly obsolete. While these tools are still tried and true, today’s cloud-based services and apps make the challenges of registration, check in, and seating so much easier. Here are highlights of a few options:
Social Tables: In our option, Social Tables is the most robust check-in and seating tool on the market. From designing room layouts and table settings to checking in guests with an iPad app, to seating charts, this service is incredibly easy to use. In terms of design and functionality, it’s near perfect for the detailed-oriented event planner. Of course, a tool of this caliber is not without cost. The price includes a one year commitment, but also includes superb customer service. The only thing missing from Social Tables is the ability to register guests. Even though this function may not be on the horizon, Social Tables certainly is worth including in your event toolbox.
Zkipster: Comparable in price to Social Tables, this service also includes a room layout function and a very good seating chart function. While it is easy to use, it lacks some functionality and flexibility—for example, it does not include oval tables or the ability to seat guests only on one side of a table (think panel discussion or royal banquet). This deficiency can be overlooked, considering it also provides a registration app that allows guests to sign up for an event via email and captures all the guest information needed for your event. Another bonus is the “per event” price option for users who don’t have a regular need for the tool.
AllSeated: It’s free! This tool allows you to design floor plans, seating charts, and manage guest lists, but it scores low on functionality and flexibility. Some issues to look for: It does not allow allergies to be assigned on the seating chart, the check in app is “read-only,” hampering your ability to make quick last minute changes in real time, and data imports from Excel must follow the tool’s given format, which may or may not be useful for the event. But, it’s free.
Perfect Table Plan: As the name suggests, this tool is all about the table. You can select from a number of different table shapes, prepare seating charts, print table cards, place cards, and even invitations, plus it allows for easy upload from Excel; however it does not include a registration or a check-in function. At $275 for unlimited events for a one licensed user, this service is very affordable and a good fit for the wedding planner or even home user.
Planning Pod: This event management system goes beyond registration, check-in and seating. It offers a suite of tools for attendee management, event production management, event business tools, and collaboration tools. Pricing is reasonable and based on the number of active events in a given month, which makes Planning Pod an excellent option for the event team looking to adopt a complete management system for its specific scope of work.
Each of these tools is worth consideration, but understanding what you need, how you are going to use it, and your budget will ultimately decide which service is best for you, your team, and your events.
Michelle Rathbun, President